It's the worst when people you teach disappear without explanation. Carmen won't call us or pick up our phone calls and we've stopped by a billion times. So she is either dead as an investigator or dead dead. Either option isn't all that great, but the lack of information kind of sucks. Oh well.
Chris and Caryn have been dropped as well. We taught the plan of salvation and it didn't go so well. Interestingly the first few minutes were really spiritual and about midway through the lesson Caryn started to throw down. Caryn's Pentecostal side started to come out and she started to get loud and finger pointy and it drove away the warm comfort that came with the spirit as we talked and bore testimony about the simple doctrines. Chris was quiet and I think he could feel the difference. She kind of devolved and started pulling up a bunch of nonsense. At first we were contesting a few of the points she brought up, but then she started making some bogus accusations and mis-quoting scripture. She made a few points that I had actually studied that morning and was totally ready to throw down on. She kept going and going and admittedly I was just waiting for a moment to push myself in. As I was sitting there, scriptures in hand, just waiting for that moment a thought came to mind which said "I know you can, but don't, just sit quietly." Thought ignored, I was still pulling out scripture just ready, completely ignoring that obviously I shouldn't bash back and two she wasn't in a position where she would be willing to be proven wrong and make an actual change. The thought came back and Elder Rencher looked at me and shook his head knowing what I was feeling. So we sat quietly. That was unfortunate. Some real mean things were said that day to us. We said a quiet prayer, apologized for any offense we may have caused and left and drove to our next appointment in silence. They were so close to opening up. We tried so hard.
On trade offs this week I had an amazing lesson that taught me an important lesson. It was with a man who had left the church 15 or so years back. We basically just talked with him to see what his story was. He was baptized and was really faithful for many years. He did a lot of member missionary work, later serving in various callings including a counselor to the branch president. After a few years he said he just missed a week of church.
No one said anything to him and that week turned into two weeks. According to him he was still reading his scriptures and living all the commandments, he just missed church. Still no one seemed to wonder where he went so two weeks turned into three, four, five and eventually turned into years. No one reached out to him, no one said anything. He slowly drifted away from the standards of the church, later starting to drink and smoke. The same happened with his wife. He told us a few really cool stories about what brought him back to church. He said he knew the church was true; he just didn't feel like he had to go to church or that anyone really missed him. Eleven years after he took up smoking he was driving in the car with his son. He said his son told him to stop smoking because it was going to kill him, but he contested and said he would be fine. He started to open a pack and had a cigarette in his mouth and as he said, a literal voice other than his own or his son's told him sternly "This is your last, you will not smoke ever again." He rolled the window down and tossed it out and told himself, "I will never smoke again." He drove home more than a little stunned. At another time, he was going through his house looking for something he had lost and stumbled upon a pack and with out thinking habitually put it in his mouth and was about to light it when the voice came back, this time telling him "If you smoke this cigarette you will never leave this habit." Stunned, he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and purged his house of all things tobacco related. He said to us "Smokers always say that the first few days are like going through hell, but Elders, I was in complete peace." In one day he stopped smoking with no side effects. A few days later he showed up to our branch. His story reminds me of a story in the Book of Mormon found in Alma 47. Read it because due to lack of time I can't write a good enough explanation. Anyway Lehonti is "poisoned by degrees" and dies leaving the evil guy he put in second in command whom he thought he was in charge of and in control of, but in reality he didn't and he died likely thinking he was still control. Poisoned by degrees is the interesting phrase. If you get a lethal dose of poison you're going to know something is up, the kicker is if it's slow, like really slow you don't see the consequences immediately. The same is with the gospel. God knows us perfectly and loves us and commandments are not made to make us like puppets where God just wants to see what he can make us do, they're here to help and protect us. The guy we talked with fell away from the church through small decisions and his children never really got taught the gospel. They are basically adults now and are completely uninterested in the gospel. It's amazing that he is back. It's even a miracle. But if he had avoided those little decisions that slowly took his family and himself away from the church he could have been through the temple and received the many blessings found there with his whole family. Also home teaching could have completely stopped that all. Home teaching is also SO important holy cow. That's another letter in itself. That lesson was awesome though. He just bore his testimony for like 40 minutes and it was epic.
Other points from the week
Elder Barrows got his Brazilian VISA! He leaves on the 4th!!!
I made two ties this week that turned out awesomely, more on the way.